You can arguably trace trance music back to religious roots emanating from a spiritual state of mind reminiscent of shamanism and elements of bhuddism . With this in mind, it's very important that trance age in aggregate can be estimated as hundreds and thousands years. The actual sound of contemporary trance, however, was born as early as 1990 in Germany , and through pioneering trance labels like Dragonfly the sound started to take on a slightly more mainstream appeal during the later 90's. Goa and Psy-trance are arguably older, with their characteristic sounds purportedly emerging in Israel and India . The repetitive nature of much of the early trance tracks provided club-goers with the ideal chance to immerse themselves in a new style of music after a period of relative quiet on what had been termed the "dance" scene.
Arguably a fusion of techno and house , early trance shared much with techno in terms of the tempo and rhythmic structures but also added more melodic overtones which were appropriated from the style of house popular in Europe's club scene at that time. However, the melodies in trance differed from euro/club house in that although they tended to be emotional and uplifting, they did not "bounce around" in the same way that house did. This early trance tended to be characterized by the anthemic qualities described above, and typically involved a break-down portion of the song in which the beat was dropped for a few bars to focus on the melody before bringing the beat back with a renewed intensity. The trance became instantly popular in Europe and spread very quickly. Inevitably, the style was to evolve and as more and more mainstream DJ's picked up on the sound of trance, so the sound became more commercial and more diverse often relegating the traditional trance styles into background sub-genres.
By the mid-1990's, trance had emerged commercially as one of the dominant genres of dance music. Immensely popular, trance found itself filling a niche as edgier than house, more soothing than drum-n-bass, and more accessible than techno. By this time, trance had become synonymous with progressive house and both genres essentially subsumed each other under the commercial banner of "progressive." Artists like Brian Transeau (BT), Paul Van Dyk, Ferry Corsten (Art of Trance), and Underworld came to the forefront as premier producers and remixers, bringing with them the emotional, epic feel of the style. Meanwhile, DJ's like Paul Oakenfold, Sasha, and John Digweed were championing the sound in the clubs and through the sale of pre-recorded mixes. By the end of the 1990's, trance remained commercially huge but had fractured into an extremely diverse genre. Perhaps as a consequence, similar things were happening with the DJ's as well; for example, Sasha and Digweed, who together had helped bring the progressive sound to the forefront, all but abandoned it by 2000, instead spinning a darker mix of the rising "deep trance" style.
In 1996, the UK became the core of the new trance phenomenon taking trance to new heights in UK clubs and out to the clubber's island of Ibiza . DJ's like Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and John Digweed started to open the eyes of the clubbing population to what would probably be best now described as euro trance: epic winding tracks with monumental breakdowns and uplifting lead lines culminating in the ATB and Delirium sounds of 2000. Assisted by well-known producers like Robert Miles, Sash and BT, these tunes struck to the hearts of an audience looking for new energy and excitement in their music. Just as interesting to observe is the creeping effect of trance around the world. While the Israelis and Swedes in particular continue to produce new sounds, American and the new Eastern European markets are absorbed in the trance sounds of a once frenetic European market. Meantime the UK and Canada are pushing the boundaries of hard trance with new genres cropping up like Hard House, a fusion of trance and house.
With such a diverse range of music to satisfy
within the genre, it is inevitable
that trance becomes a victim of its
own success. We've already seen the
likes of trance-made DJ's like Paul
Van Dyk denounce the genre and its
becoming de-facto to slate the genre
as old hat. However, for many true
trance fans of the mid-nineties, this
is ultimately leading bringing their
genre back round to what it was designed
to be: music for the mind
, not music for the masses
. The likely path for commercial
trance music is either back into the
"dance" fold or to once more re-badge
itself, maybe as progressive, maybe
as epic dance music - whichever route
it transpires to follow, trance should
be remembered for providing a renaissance
of dance music. Currently trance continues
to expand the diversity of the genre
as expressed through many of its brightest